Originally published by the Daily Record, Friday, December 6, 10:11 AM EST
Archon Chester Aikens, a longtime civic leader, passed away Thursday afternoon shortly after a meeting of the Jacksonville Retirement Reform Task Force, of which he was a member.
Aikens suffered a heart attack near the entrance of City Hall shortly after the meeting concluded. Randy Wyse and Mark Treglio, both of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, immediately assisted Aikens until the ambulance arrived.
He died later at Baptist Medical Center.
Among his contributions, Aikens served on the Jacksonville Aviation Authority board, was a member of the Jacksonville Civic Council and was named to Mayor Alvin Brown’s transition team to help lead the Downtown revitalization group.
In a statement, Brown said Aikens was a close friend and mentor.
“Dr. Chester Aikens was a trailblazer and community leader who always cared deeply about helping others. He was also a man of strong faith. His loss is devastating for Jacksonville,” Brown said in a statement.
“He was a businessman who never hesitated to volunteer his time and energy to make our city a better place,” Brown’s statement continued.
Aikens worked at his Downtown dental practice at 305 E. Union St. and was licensed in Florida since 1980, according to his practice’s website.
Gamma Beta Boulé Founding Sire Archon Wendell P. Holmes
On June 9, 1984, in a ceremony at the Sheraton St. John’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity’s Sire Archon Wendell Holmes officially founded Gamma Beta Boulé as the 74th subordinate chapter.
Dr. Wendell P. Holmes, Jr., was a distinguished community servant for the past five decades. He was the first African American elected to a school board in Florida and Duval County, where he served for twenty-three years—four of which as Board Chairman.
Dr. Holmes served as a member of the Board of Trustees at two Historically Black Universities: twenty-seven at Bethune-Cookman University—eleven of which as Chair, and twenty-six at Hampton University—nine of which as Chair. He served as a member of the Community Development Council of First Union National Bank, the DuPont Community Building Fund Advisory Committee, the Better Jacksonville Plan Finance Administration Committee, and was a former Chairman of the Council of Board Chairs for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from Bethune-Cookman College in 1984, and was further recognized with the construction of a new campus building named for him, the Wendell P. Holmes, Jr. Business Building. His alma mater, Hampton University, also recognized him similarly on their campus, with the construction of the Wendell P. Holmes, Jr. Men’s Dormitory.
Archon Alvin George White was born in Jacksonville and graduated from Stanton High School
Dr. White received a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A&M University, a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University, and a Doctor of Education degree from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. White taught 6th grade at Oakland Elementary School while coaching at Matthew W. Gilbert Junior-Senior High School, then became Athletic Director and basketball coach at A. L. Lewis Junior High School; head football coach at Stanton Vocational High School; and Athletic Director and head football coach at Eugene Butler Junior-Senior High School.
During the beginning of desegregation of public schools in Duval County, Dr. White became the first African American vice-principal of a predominately white school, Robert E. Lee High School, and then the first African American principal of a predominately white school, Jean Ribault Senior High School.
Dr. White was also one of the first African American Area Assistant Superintendents in Duval County where his service included being Assistant Superintendent for Desegregation; Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources; and retired in 1997 as the Chief Operating Officer for the Duval County Public School System, consisting of 12,000 employees and over 126,000 students.
In February 2008, Dr. White came out of retirement and returned to the Duval County Public School System as the first African American Chief of Staff and Partnerships. Dr. White was married to the former Brenda Lundy and is the father of two children, Marcel White and Altoria White